1.What is the Sri Devi Khadgamala Stotram?
Sri Devi refers to Shakti, the Divine Mother. Khadga means Sword, Mala means Garland, Stotram means a hymn or song of praise. So the Khadgamala Stotram (hereafter, KS) is a hymn to the Divine Mother, which is said to bestow a garland of swords (see FAQ #2, below) upon those who recite it. The KS takes us mentally through the Sri Chakra; i.e. the mystical geometric representation of the Supreme Goddess. This Yantra consists of nine enclosures each more secret and esoteric than the one before surrounding a central point, or bindu, in which Devi, the Supreme Goddess (here in Her erotic form as Kameshwari) is joined in coitus with her consort (see FAQ #2, below). As we make our way to the center of Sri Chakra, we pay homage to the 98 yoginis or aspects of Devi (by reciting each of their names) who guard the various power points of the charka along the way. We internalize each yogini to become Her; and this prepares us to meet the next yogini on our path and so on until we reach the center.
2.What is the symbolic meaning of the KS?
'SHAKTI' (Devi) is the Sanskrit word denoting power, or energy all Energy, whether we perceive it (from our perspective) as positive or negative. (It is the Shakta belief that there is no positive or negative energy. Energy is always the Creatrix.) Einstein said that all matter is energy. Shaktism says all energy that is, everything in and of the three worlds is all DEVI. SHIVA is Consciousness, and is visualized as Devis consort. Consciousness energized by Power = the UNIVERSE. Energy animated by CONSCIOUSNESS also = the UNIVERSE. Love the desire of SHAKTI and SHIVA to Unite as One is the essence of all Creation. That why the KS envisions Devi 'IN COITUS' with Her Consort. This implies that SHAKTI (Energy) is fully animated by SHIVA (Consciousness) She is, in fact, in an eternal state of creative orgasm. That is the cosmic bliss we begin to access through our sadhana (spiritual disciplines). The human sexual impulse is merely a metaphor for the Cosmic Creative Impulse that creates that all we see and do not see. The Stotram is inviting us to ride that wave with Her; in essence, to become Her. The SWORD bestowed upon reciters of the KS symbolizes the power (Energy) that enables us to transcend attachment, enabling Self-Realization. As Sri Amritananda Natha explains, the Sword [metaphorically] severs the head, separating body from mind. It can be interpreted also as Wisdom that which separates, categorizes, and classifies. So it is a symbol of Knowledge. Khadgamala is about imagining a garland of synergistic ideas, nourishing and protecting them and putting life into them.
3.Of all the Shakta recitations, why did you choose to share the KS?
Many people have asked us over the years how to begin a serious Shakta practice something more advanced and specific than our most basic (and still totally valid) advice, Just pray to the Mother! and yet not so complex and time-consuming as to place it beyond the reasonable capacity of an average devotee. The KS is a very advanced, very powerful recitation from the Srividya school of Shaktism and yet it is totally within the reach of anyone who approaches it in a spirit of serious, sustained devotion and practice.
4.Why should I use it?
Because it condenses a long series of complicated rituals into a very simple, easily achievable recitation/meditation that anyone can learn and hugely benefit from. The full pooja of the Devis of the Sri Chakra takes hours, because at each point we pause and do smaller, detailed poojas. Hence the sages of yore created this KS as an alternative, short-form recitation that is more suitable for the demands and time constrictions of modern life. According to one advanced Srividya upasak who is a member of this group: "All of the sadhana of Srividya can be achieved by the recitation of the Khadgamala. Hours of long ritual compressed to less than half an hour of intense meditation that will give you a ticket on the same plane as the great Srividya Upasakas. Whatever your developmental stage, this is IT." Even those who have not been initiated into Srividya can benefit from the Khadgamala. Stotras are one tool of Srividya upasana that is open to all categories of people. It does not have ritualistic injunctions of dos and donts. All you need do is recite; then, by and by, the Devis will become visible and you will feel the bliss of union with the ultimate and as one goes on, the necessary teachers will appear as if from thin air and guide you further (this is the personal experience of many a member of this group).
5.How do I begin?
Simply print out the Khadgamala Stotram as linked from the Shakti Sadhana site, download the MP3 recitation from Devipuram site, and begin reciting it. Its as easy as that. Listen and read till you know it by heart. Then listen only. Then stop even that. Just contemplate it in your mind.
6.How do I recite the KS?
Sri Amritananda advises, As you are reciting each name, that yoginis portion of Sri Chakra should spring up in your imagination. The power comes from intensifying concentration to visualize the form, hear the sound, feel the touch, taste, and smell of the divine perfume of the [yogini] manifesting that part of the ever youthful Goddess. The Goddess loves fun. She is deeply in love with you, making you Siva. Dont worry if your recitation is awkward or your pronunciation is bad. As Sri Amritananda Natha counsels, you should simply dismiss all of those technical concerns for now and simply begin your journey to Goddess today, no matter how feebly. You can add power and depth as you move along. We are there to help you. It is said Bhava grAhI JanArdana (God understands the feeling and intent and does not bother about mistakes.) Also, in your meditation, do not try too hard to concentrate because you cannot!! Just recite, let the mind wander; let it do whatever it wants. Still the result will come. If one tries to concentrate, the body will become tense and the results will not appear.
7.How often should I use it?
Once a day is ideal. So do it daily; and, if possible, at the same time and same place. But if your circumstances make that kind of commitment difficult or impossible, do not worry! Simply do it when you can. Especially when you are sad and/or facing a problem; just do it and you may well see miracles.
8.What is the effect of using it supposed to be?
One Srividya upasak in our group, who is quite experienced in use of the KS, says, Its a hyperplane that will take you anywhere you want (or need) to go. It clears your doubts and fears, removes your psychic baggage, and prepares your mind and spirit for dramatic spiritual advancement. It fulfils all wishes, more than you desire, instantly, adds Sri Amritananda. Therein lies its power. Regular practice protects you, nourishes you, and takes you beyond.
9.Is it okay to recite Khadgamala Stotram without a guru?
Yes, it is a stotra and is also a mala mantra (i.e., a mantra with more than 1,000 letters). Keep in mind that the original source document of the Stotram has been lost, to the best of modern knowledge, other than a few stray excerpts that have survived here and there. So injunctions, if any, have also been lost. But the simple fact is that many, many people have recited the KS without injunctions and attained everything. Therefore, it can safely be assumed that there are no negative injunctions.
10.Im confused by all of the pictures and posts surrounding this Khadgamala Devis Series. Do I really have to know or memorize all this stuff?
Absolutely not! As noted above, there is no pressure. If you use it a lot, the memorization will come very naturally in its own time. Dont worry about it, and dont try to force it. The Shakti Sadhana Group is currently engaged in a 100-week series, in which we consider each of the Devis of the KS, one at a time, posting their photo as the Group picture, talking about them and let people know a little bit about them. But even if you never read a single one of those posts (or even if you *do* read them but you are not sure you really understand), it is no matter. You can still simply recite the Hymn ... and Devi will do all the rest. We hope that the FAQ has answered any questions you may have had about the Khadgamala Stotram. If you have any other questions, please post them at the Shakti Sadhana Group. Someone will reply to you.
11.If there is a short cut version, why the long form of pooja?
Answer to this question, Click here